The Exploitation reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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From exploit; the act of exploiting. a. To make use of or productively utilize. b. To make use of in an unjust, cruel or selfish manner for one's own advantage.

ÓExploitationÔ usually does not include simple theft, since the latter is not a persistent economic or social relationship. Rather, exploitation involves some persistent aspect of the system, an institution.

Table of contents
1 General considerations
2 Marxian theory
3 Liberal theories
4 See also

General considerations

In sociology, exploitation refers to the use of people as a resource, with little or no consideration of their well-being.

It is seen often as a socio-economic phenomenon, where poor people are exploited for their labors in service of a powerful entity, such as a state or a corporation.

The use of the word 'exploitation' is a common, humanist characterisation of the work for pay system, when it is applied with cruelty, or with compulsion, or on terms that are disagreeable to the employee.

These differences are largely in perception, though its not to say they are not genuine.

The elitist point of view of the employer is likely to see even an extremely imbalanced exchanged as fair, by virtue of the limited options of the servant.

The employee point of view can also be imbalanced by its perception, we can see this example in labor union issues, where some might levee their political power for self-serving reasons such as undue perks or excess pay raises.

To many conservative observers, these kinds of labor abuses occur rarely and only in first-world economies, after existing imbalances in the employer's favor are countered, and then the union becomes a tool of selfish abuse.

A common example of corporate exploitation clothing corporations such as Nike, and The Gap, in using child labor (sweatshops) in extremely poor nations to manufacture their products for little relative pay. This pay is often insufficient for the local cost of living if ony normal working hours are observed, and frequently long working hours are forced under unsafe conditions.

These companies often argue that even such low wages are living wages for that location. This is seen by some as disingenuous, as they are in fact exploiting people by the terms of unequal human standards. Corporate wealth is a strong incentive in governments with weak human standards, and rampant corruption.

Thus the case is often made that a corporate entity shares complicity in human rights abuses, when it enters into a working partnership with a tyrannical and abusive political governments, to exploit the people for their labor.

Marxian theory

In Marxian theory, the "exploitation" described above is usually called "superexploitation," exploitation that goes beyond the normal standards of exploitation prevalent in capitalist society. While the theories discussed above emphasize the exploitation of one individual by an organization, the Marxian theory concerns the exploitation of one entire segment or class of society by another. In the Marxian view, "normal" exploitation is based in three structural characteristics of that kind of society: (1) the monopoly of the ownership of the means of production by a small minority in society, the capitalists; (2) the inability of non-property-owners (the workers, proletarians) to survive without selling their labor-time to the capitalists; and (3) the state, which uses its violence to protect the unequal distribution of power and property in society. Because of these human-made institutions, workers have little or no choice but to pay the capitalists surplus-value (profits, interest, and rent) in exchange for their survival. They enter the realm of production, where they produce commodities, which allow their bosses to realize that surplus-value as profit. They are always threatened by the "reserve army of the unemployed." For more on this theory, see the discussion of Marx's labor theory of value.

Liberal theories

There are also liberal theories of exploitation. In neoclassical economics, exploitation is a kind of market failure, a deviation from an ideal vision of capitalism. The most common neoclassical exploiter is a monopsony or a monopoly. These exploiters have bargaining power.

Another exploiter is the agent who takes advantage of the principal who hires her, under conditions of asymmetric information (see the principal-agent problem). A third exploiter is the free rider who takes advantage of others who pay for the production of public goods.

For others, exploitation coexists with perfect markets: given a special position in society (controlling an important asset), an interest group can shift the distribution of income in its direction, impoverishing the rest, even though their role serves no reasonable purpose. While Henry George pointed to land-owners, John Maynard Keynes saw rentiers as fitting this picture. In some ways, these theories are similar to the Marxian one discussed above. However, they represent the power and influence of special interests in society (and within the capitalist class) rather than representing a structural difference in class position of the Marxian sort.

Finally, combining the neoclassical emphasis on market imperfections with the second school's stress on the exploiters forming a segment of society that gains income without contributing, Milton Friedman, free-market libertarians, and other laissez faire business conservatives, along with the anarchists, claim that the government or state is exploitative. It is a monopoly run by a special interest group, regularly interfering with markets.

See also

corporate abuse, slavery, child labor, child sexual exploitation, human exploitation, animal abuse, Class warfare, exploitation of natural resources, exploitation film